It started while we were on vacation. We’d saved all year to rent an ocean front room at La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. No one thought to tell us about the “June Gloom” until after we arrived. That’s the dense fog that envelops the shoreline, the sky and everything gorgeous until midafternoon each day. It should’ve been my first clue… but I was blissfully unaware of what was coming.
Several days into the trip, I got a call from my dad. We chatted briefly and (thankfully) ended with “I love you.” It was the last time I would ever talk to him; a week later, he died.
I flew to Atlanta for his funeral. My mother asked me not to cry during the service, or afterwards. “People need to feel they can express their condolences to us, and if we’re crying, they’ll feel awkward.” I bottled up my grief – and when the service ended, I couldn’t stand. The pain in my back was so intense it was nauseating.
Six months later, my mom – who had eloped at 20, and loved my Dad every day of her life – was diagnosed with leukemia. The oncologist concluded that suppressing her grief was affecting her immune system. “Get her to cry,” she advised, “or the leukemia will kill her.”
Awful as it was, this was just the beginning.
My husband and I met with an RE to discuss our lack of success conceiving. He recommended we start with progesterone, Clomid and IUI. That plan suddenly got more complicated when I had to leave my spouse, my home, and our only source of income to care for my mom as she underwent a bone marrow transplant — halfway across the country.
I flew to Seattle thinking: one parent’s just died, the other’s fighting for her life, I’m so stressed my body is going haywire, and I’m leaving everything I need to get pregnant. I’m going to have to guess when I’ll ovulate so I can book a flight to Chicago in time for a rushed IUI and a night with my lonely, tired, med school student husband before I race back to the cancer center for 24/7 bedside. What is happening?!
Why was I so crazy about conceiving right then? I don’t think it’s because we’d been trying on our own for a long time. I guess it’s because it felt like the world was falling apart. I’d lost control of everything – this wasn’t my script for my life – and somehow it seemed like the best possible time to experience some joy. To reassure myself that “happily ever after” was more than a mirage. To reclaim at least part of my dream for the future.
My Job-like journey continued for several more years. It included multiple miscarriages, numerous surgeries, a cancer (mis)diagnosis, unneeded chemo, five months of bedrest, a premature birth, heart arrhythmias and defibrillation, my mother’s death, so many trips to the emergency room the intake nurse knew me on sight….
It went on, and on, and on.
By the grace of God, I made it. I survived all of it. And when I finally experienced my first “normal” day – no crises, no deaths, no trauma – I was overwhelmed with gratitude. That’s the blessing of “when it rains, it pours” — gratitude so intense it leaves you in tears.
Our infertility journey was intertwined with so many other hard, horrible experiences. I came face to face with several of my worst fears, and I realized that I was never in control. I was always at the mercy of God’s grace. And it never failed. I’m so, so thankful.
Life is hard, and God is good; that’s my “when it rains…” story in a nutshell. Are you in the middle of a rainy season right now? Hang in there. I know life is hard, but God is good.